Mauer is my AL MVP, and these are my award ballots as of right now
There are at least three reasons of varying value going around for why folks
Mauer leads the American League in batting average (.368), on-base percentage (.434) and slugging percentage (.605). This kind of Triple Crown occurs a bit more often than the traditional Triple Crown, though it doesn't make it any less impressive. Plus, Mauer is a catcher (and not just any catcher, but one of the best defensive catchers in the game).
Let's dispense with the three biggest reasons why some try to make the case that the AL MVP should be someone other than Mauer.
Some would say that the MVP should come from a playoff team. After all, how valuable can a player be if his team doesn't make it to October? But while it's preferable for the MVP to come from a playoff team, exceptions can be made in cases of all-time great years.
None of these reasons should be enough to prevent the 26-year-old Mauer from being the first catcher since Pudge to win the MVP. And neither should the fourth occasionally-cited reason, which I don't really believe exists. And that is the so-called "New York bias.''
There are those who say that there's a New York-centric element to baseball's honors, even the postseason awards. I am not sure how that's possible, as the awards are determined by a vote of two writers from every city. That's two votes from New York and two from Kansas City (not to mention Minnesota) for the AL awards. So simple mathematics will tell you that the voting is as much Kansas City-centric as it is New York-centric. It's true that many more stories are written about the New York players, but I doubt that the writers in Kansas City or other major league cities are so easily influenced by these stories. Sometimes they may be turned off by them.
If there is ever a time to be swept up in the excitement regarding Jeter's magnificent season, this may be it. He is three hits away from tying
Jeter is an all-time great of the game. And he is getting better by the year, it seems. But Jeter has never won an MVP award, and that's a little odd in that he's probably the MVP over the last decade and a half. There has been growing support in New York for Jeter as MVP, and he has truly had a spectacular season, even better than his fabulous numbers (.327 average, 97 runs) would suggest. He has been superb at the plate, and what's more, he has improved his shortstop play to the point where he has been Gold Glove-caliber. He has been a dynamic two-way shortstop, maybe the best 35-year-old shortstop in baseball history.
Some might even say that Jeter deserves the MVP as a lifetime achievement award. Jeter winning an MVP in his 14th season would be an even better story than his surpassing Gehrig, and in many ways it would be nice to see him win one. Still, it's hard to look past the fact that Mauer is having one of the greatest offensive years that any catcher has ever had, for a team that's still playing games that count.
I do not have an MVP vote (in an almost DiMaggio-like streak, this makes it 23 straight years that I don't have an MVP ballot), but I do have a vote for another award. This is how each of my award ballots would look now.
1. Mauer. Incomparable year can't be ignored.
2. Teixeira. Terrific addition has finally solidified the Yankees infield while also causing the Red Sox to second-guess themselves for not going past $170 million.
3. Jeter. Superb all-around season but may suffer some from split vote with Teixeira.
4. Cabrera. Big second-half (.362 after the break) bringing him into the crowded picture.
6. Morales. Probably the leader among five or six Angels who may get votes (
7. Youkilis. He has had the best year of all of Boston's stars. He's also the most versatile.
8. Figgins. Angels' igniter learned about on-base percentage from Abreu, a master. Should be very popular in free agency.
Some have suggested that
Unlike some with greater sabermetric leanings, I do not view victory totals as worthless, or even especially overrated. It's just another piece of the puzzle, and in this case, a small piece. Whether anyone finishes with three or four or even five more wins than Greinke, it's pretty easy to see that he has been the best pitcher in the American League so far this year. A strong case could be made that he has been the best in baseball (I would make that case), and unless something changes dramatically I'd be shocked if he didn't win the Cy Young award.
And for those holding to the view that there's a New York bias, I would follow Greinke with
1. Greinke. Leads AL in quality starts (23), complete games (six), shutouts (three), ERA (2.22) and a bunch more stats. Big start (0.40 ERA in April) and big finish, too, with 15-whiff performance and one-hitter among last few outings.
2. Halladay. A case for him would have to be built on a much tougher schedule of games than Greinke, as
3. Hernandez. If anyone wants him this winter, they'll have to offer the moon (and the sun, too).
1. Carpenter. By percentage he's the best at winning (16-3 record) and preventing runs (2.16 ERA). Only a handful have led these two categories and failed to win the Cy Young.
2. Lincecum. Has many more innings and whiffs than Carpenter. Plus a case could be made that a slightly worse winning percentage is mitigated by a weaker hitting team.
Some have suggested that there haven't been any standout rookies this season. On the contrary, I'd say there have been plenty. Here are my choices for the best of the best at this point.
• The conventional wisdom is that
• Kasten disputed the notion that he may decide to move elsewhere. At first he said, " I expect to be here,'' before upgrading that slightly to, "I plan to be here," and finally to the more definitive, "Yes, I am going to be here.'' There was word that Blue Jays acting president
• There hasn't been any hint of renewed negotiations between the Angels and ace pitcher
• The Rockies continue to amaze. They have now built a five-game winning streak despite injuries within the past several days to
• The Yankees may consider employing
• Pettitte said family considerations mean he won't decide whether he plans to return until he gets home to Houston this winter.
• Time to go tweet. Follow me at: